Tag Archives: gospel

Peter Greer of HOPE on “Broken Aid” & the Gospel

My friend Josh Good over at AEI’s fantastic Values & Capitalism project just sent around an interview with Peter Greer.  According to Values & Cap, Peter is President and CEO of HOPE International, a global non-profit organization focused on alleviating both physical and spiritual poverty through Christ-centered microfinance in some of the most challenging places around the world, including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti.

If you like thinking about responsible, church-friendly, gospel-driven social justice work that is friendly to entrepreneurship and aware of the power of the market to affect health for individuals, this will be like catnip to you.  I found Greer’s answers manifestly biblical and helpful.  Here’s a snatch from the broader interview (and see these helpful thoughts on the D’Souza scandal):

What are the economic realities that shape the way that HOPE International conducts its work across the globe?

Aid is broken. Economist Bill Easterly writes that despite a massive increase in aid to Africa over the last 40 years—$568 billion—most African countries are not better off. In fact, many growth rates have plummeted.

We have sufficient data to know that the only way for an economy to grow is through the private sector.

The Brookings Institution reports that since 2005, 70 million people each year are escaping poverty. According to the 58: campaign, between 1981 and 2005, extreme global poverty was cut in half, from 52 to 26 percent. This progress is largely the result of investments and job creation.

Consider China. Thirty years ago, China had more people, percentagewise, living in poverty than every country except four. Today—through economic growth—poverty has been reduced from 84 to 16 percent, according to the World Bank.

Today even Africa is poised for change. Private investments have generated more than 1.7 million jobs (from 2003 to 2010)—bypassing the effect of aid, according to the 2011 report published by Business Action for Africa and Ernst & Young

Job creation and investments, not aid, is what will cause Africa to experience growth, development and a much brighter future.

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How Theology Drives Spirituality (Thinking and Doing Are Inextricable!)

It’s very common in evangelicalism to either be a “thinking Christian” or a “doing Christian.”  I think that these divisions are bunk.  I think that thinking drives doing.  Theology drives spirituality.  I recently had the opportunity to say as much at Highland Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, a church featuring a thriving discipleship ministry led by my buddy (and fellow TEDS PhD grad) Doug Hankins.  Here’s the link to the original talk.  If you want to ponder this topic further, check out John Piper’s Think.  There’s some discussion of this theme in the book I coedited from 2011 that Piper and D. A. Carson coauthored.

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One of the Most (Honestly) Uplifting Songs of 2012

I blogged last month about Portland, Oregon rap group Beautiful Eulogy, part of Humble Beast records.  Here’s my favorite song from their album, also titled “Beautiful Eulogy.”  Both verses are powerful; the second, by the rapper Braille, hits hard, because Braille is referencing the difficulties he’s experienced after his marriage fell apart due, it appears, to infidelity on the part of his spouse.  Here, by the way, is the whole album (and free download).

Here’s a portion of the second verse.  It’s a beautiful articulation of what the gospel looks like in the midst of our sin and fallenness:

How sweet the gospel sounds to ears like mine/
Well acquainted with pain and strained relationships/
Friendships that suffer from long distances/or even worse they get
severed from something more severe/
And He still hasn’t wiped away all my tears yet/
My cheeks get wet every now and then/
Even when I give my best, I know I fall short/
I get scared when the ball’s in my court/
Focused on, my performance, wretched and poor/
It makes the message more real when I preach it/
I’m not there yet so I’m reaching, reaching for a goal/
to stand before my King and be speechless.

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Why Tipping at Restaurants Speaks to Your Walk with Christ

Raymond Johnson, a PhD student at Southern Seminary, just published a very helpful essay on tipping and the gospel at Baptist Press, the official media outlet of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It’s worth reading and considering.  Here’s a snatch:

Whether Christians are aware of it or not, a subpar tip is a stumbling block in communicating the Gospel. It causes unbelieving servers to think that we, as Christians, value money over everything and everyone else (1 Timothy 6:10). So, my coworker, like many other servers, interprets such actions (poor tips from alleged Christian people) as stingy. Tragically, the result — though it may be unfair — is that many servers have identified the majority of Christians as a contingent of people who care little for others. They hear Christians promise them that God is just and fair and that He is a generous King who is lavish with His mercy and kind toward others. Christians promise them that the Gospel they preach is for all people right before they metaphorically clinch their money in their fist and tip poorly; refusing money to laborers who are worthy of their wages (1 Timothy 5:18; Matthew 10:10).

Read the whole thing.

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Sexual Hysteria: Douglas Wilson Gets Shouted Down at Indiana University

Justin Taylor blogged this yesterday; Denny Burk, my colleague at Boyce College, then posted it on his own blog.  It is nothing less than shocking.  Watch the full lectures for free here, and witness how Douglas Wilson, pastor from Moscow, Idaho, is treated.  Here you see where the cultural elite are going in terms of morality and homosexuality.

Those of us who have grown up in a relatively tolerant country should buckle up.  Things are not going to get easier for Christians in the West who love the gospel and exercise their conscience in public.  Pray hard.  Put on the armor of Christ.  Trust a great God.  Weep for people who are offering themselves as sacrifices to Satan.

And by the way–when you engage sinners lost in their sin, remember Wilson’s example: bold, clear, winsome, witty, and able to take a punch.

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Redeem Us from Gluttony: A Personal Trainer Speaks Up

You know how there’s a ton right now on “The Gospel and X?”  Not all of those pieces are helpful, because some of them don’t move from theology to practice.  Good thinking and preaching always bears down on everyday life.

I was deeply encouraged, then, to read this excellent post on “How the Gospel Overcomes Gluttony.”  It’s by a personal trainer from Maine named Matt Wallace.  Check it out:

Having worked professionally as a personal trainer for over 15 years, I know millions of people resolve each year to get control of the overeating that has haunted them and perhaps threatens their health. And I’m not talking about enjoying an occasional dessert, but rather a desperate dependence upon food.

In attempt to fix the problem, millions of dollars are poured into the fitness industry, gym memberships expand, and every manner of diet book and fitness product. No doubt these books will be full of easy-to-follow principles. Nevertheless, a month or so later we learn the five easy principles are anything but easy. The constant failure reveals that the problem with chronic overeating goes deeper than we have ever imagined.

Here’s what Matt says is the real problem:

Because Adam and Eve didn’t trust in their exalted status, approval, and security in God, they sought to establish their own righteousness. It was the forbidden fruit that promised salvation. So, in rebellion, they ate to satisfy their deepest longings. Although they had plenty of food in the garden, it wasn’t enough. Their hope was that food would give them a better existence than being loved by God. That is the root of gluttony. It is a deep seated rebellious affection based on the lie that food is more pleasurable than God. Gluttony is not merely a lack will power, it is religious in nature as it is service, devotion, and worship of the pleasure of food instead of God. In short, gluttony is idolatry.

Read the whole thing.

(Image: The Resurgence, HT: Josh Cousineau)

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Media Is Here from the Mohler-Wallis Debate (Link)

Audio and video has been posted from the Mohler-Wallis debate hosted by the Henry Center of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (HT: @carlhenrycenter).  I just checked the video and it looks great.

A basic question at the heart of the debate is this: Is social justice an essential part of the mission of the church?

The Henry Center for Theological Understanding, in its Trinity Debates forum, is pleased to provide a public venue for addressing this question by hosting two prominent voices from competing perspectives. Jim Wallis will answer “Yes” and R. Albert Mohler will answer “No.”

Debate Media: Audio | Video

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This Week at TEDS: Mohler-Wallis Henry Center Debate & Alistair Begg

(Update: Post corrected thanks to Tyler Wittman)

Thursday night at 7pm CST (8pm EST), the much-anticipated (and widely-covered) debate between Al Mohler and Jim Wallis takes place.  The Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is staging the event.  Anyone and everyone can watch the live-stream here starting at 7pm on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

I would encourage readers to pray that this event will lead to gospel clarity on a confusing issue.

Here is the event description:

North American Evangelicals have recently experienced a revival of interest in issues of social justice. The growing sentiment among many today is that Jesus preached “good news to the poor,” and was indeed among the poor and marginalized. These Christians believe that the implications of these facts should renew the church’s understanding of the gospel and its mission. Rightly or wrongly, this interest in social justice is transforming the blueprint and vision of ecclesial ministry.

For others, this blueprint conjures up concerns about 20th century liberal Protestantism and a watering down of the gospel’s message of salvation. The defining mission of the church, for them, continues to be the sharing of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to all nations, generations, and social classes. The issue of social justice, though important, is not to be considered as an essential part of the mission of the church.

A basic question at the heart of the debate is this: Is social justice an essential part of the mission of the church?

The Henry Center for Theological Understanding, in its Trinity Debates forum, is pleased to provide a public venue for addressing this question by hosting two prominent voices from competing perspectives. Jim Wallis will answer “Yes” and R. Albert Mohler will answer “No.”

Tomorrow is a big day for the Henry Center.  Alistair Begg will speak in the Scripture & Ministry lecture series at 1pm CST, the premier lecture series of the HCTU.  His talk, entitled “Inadequacy: The Surprising Secret to Being Useful to God,” looks excellent.  I’m guessing you’ll want to get the media in a few weeks’ time.

Here is Begg’s blurb (he references the NBA!):

The NBA champions this year was a team made up of fewer stars and less glitz than their opponents. We might say that humility triumphed over hubris. There are lessons-a-plenty in this for an evangelical church that routinely produces all-stars. Such an approach endangers the recipients of such adulation and discourages those who are by-passed in the process. In this lecture, Alistair Begg will consider God’s pattern of using unlikely and ordinary characters and address the possibility that what we regard as a hindrance may be the key to usefulness in God’s service.

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On the Trinity, Gospel, Local Church and More: Christianity.com Videos

What is the value of church history?  I attempt to answer this very important question here in a video interview with Christianity.com conducted at the 2011 national conference of The Gospel Coalition.  I reference the doctrine of the Trinity–currently a hot-button issue due to the matter of modalism raised in light of the Elephant Room video series–to show that while historical theology does not create truth, it certainly allows Christians to put together biblical insights, to systematize doctrine for the flourishing of God’s people and the defense of God’s name.  (That’s Athanasius, Trinitarian theologian par excellence, to the root, by the way.)

You can watch the featured Christianity.com video here.  Here is a list of other videos that I did for this organization, which is committed to putting out rich doctrinal content to aid Christians in their walk with Christ.  I’m thankful for the chance to have made a small contribution and hope that these videos stimulate thought and learning.  They were very fun to do.  Most are between 2-3 minutes.

Here are the topics I talked about in bite-size pieces:

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